UNHCR steps up repatriation from Liberia to Côte d'Ivoire

News Stories, 9 December 2011

© UNHCR/S.Momodu
Buses taking Ivorian refugees back home from Liberia.

TOE TOWN, Liberia, December 9 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency is stepping up its voluntary repatriation operation for refugees from Côte d'Ivoire living in Liberia. On Thursday, UNHCR repatriated a group of 546 Ivorian refugees who had been living in the counties of Nimba and Grand Gedeh.

The repatriation convoy carried more people than the combined total of the past three convoys of an exercise launched in October to take back people. The refugees had fled the violence that erupted after the disputed presidential election of November last year. UNHCR is planning return convoys every Tuesday and Thursday as more refugees are signing up to be helped home.

UNHCR and its partners used trucks, buses, cars and ambulances to take the returnees to Côte d'Ivoire via the Toe Town transit centre on the Liberian side of the border between the two countries. Here they were given bread, sardines, high energy protein biscuits and water. They also receive blankets, mats and jerry cans.

"The momentum to return is on and we will continue to assist them to do so," later said UNHCR Senior Protection Officer Fatima Mohammed as the convoy moved into Côte d' Ivoire, the refugees waving goodbye.

The main return areas for the refugees were the towns of Toulepleu and Danane in western Côte d'Ivoire. Refugees from previous convoys mostly returned to Blolequin, Toulepleu, Doukoue and Guiglo, other towns in the west that experienced heavy fighting at the height of the Ivorian crisis.

Some say they are returning because the war is over and there is now peace in their home areas. Others say they need to go back to study, cultivate their fields, find work or reunite with relatives after becoming separated during the violence.

"I am a high school student. I am returning home because I want to go back to school," said 20-year-old Daple, who has two children of her own. Kui-Zoto said he wanted to go back to resume his unusual career. "I was a comedian at the Toulepleu radio station. I am returning to continue with my comedy work."

Ivorian refugees in Togo are also beginning to return. On December 1, UNHCR arranged a first convoy of 47 refugees from the more than 600 who signed up for repatriation.

Just over a year after the presidential election that sparked the six months of violence, some 96,000 Ivorian refugees have returned from Liberia. Others would like to go back, but are waiting to see what happens after legislative elections due on Sunday in Côte d'Ivoire.

UNHCR welcomes the momentum in repatriation as it is an indication of improved security in Côte d' Ivoire. In August, the governments of Liberia, Côte d' Ivoire and UNHCR signed an agreement to help refugees who want to repatriate. UNHCR signed similar agreements with Ghana, Guinea and Togo.

There are still some 170,000 Ivorian refugees in West Africa. The majority of them are in Liberia (138,164), Ghana (15,948), Togo (5,110) and Guinea (2,480.)




UNHCR country pages


UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

Returnees in Myanmar

During the early 1990s, more than 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into Bangladesh, citing human rights abuses by Myanmar's military government. In exile, refugees received shelter and assistance in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh. More than 230,000 of the Rohingya Muslims have returned since 1992, but about 22,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh. To promote stability in returnee communities in Myanmar and to help this group of re-integrate into their country, UNHCR and its partner agencies provide monitors to insure the protection and safety of the returnees as well as vocational training, income generation schemes, adult literacy programs and primary education.

Returnees in Myanmar

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

UNHCR started distributing emergency relief aid in devastated southern Lebanese villages in the second half of August. Items such as tents, plastic sheeting and blankets are being distributed to the most vulnerable. UNHCR supplies are being taken from stockpiles in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre and continue to arrive in Lebanon by air, sea and road.

Although 90 percent of the displaced returned within days of the August 14 ceasefire, many Lebanese have been unable to move back into their homes and have been staying with family or in shelters, while a few thousand have remained in Syria.

Since the crisis began in mid-July, UNHCR has moved 1,553 tons of supplies into Syria and Lebanon for the victims of the fighting. That has included nearly 15,000 tents, 154,510 blankets, 53,633 mattresses and 13,474 kitchen sets. The refugee agency has imported five trucks and 15 more are en route.

Posted on 29 August 2006

Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid

Refugees move to new camp in Liberia

UNHCR has begun transferring refugees from Côte d'Ivoire to a new refugee camp in the north-eastern Liberian town of Bahn. Over the coming weeks UNHCR hopes to move up to 15,000 refugees into the facility, which has been carved out of the jungle. They are among almost 40,000 civilians from Côte d'Ivoire who have fled to escape mounting political tension in their country since the presidential election in late November.

The final number of people to move to Bahn will depend on how many wish to be relocated.from villages near the Liberia-Côte d'Ivoire border. Initially most of the refugees were taken in by host communities, living side-by-side with locals. Poor road conditions made it difficult for humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance. Supplies of food, medicine and water have been running low, making conditions difficult for both locals and refugees.

At the camp in Bahn, refugees will have easy access to basic services such as health care, clean water and primary school education.

Refugees move to new camp in Liberia

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